Mario Venzago / Tapiola Sinfonietta

Bruckner 5

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Mario Venzago's Bruckner cycle on CPO stands out for the attention paid to recreating a unique period sound for each symphony, with the participation of five different orchestras. This recording of the Symphony No. 5 in B flat major with the Tapiola Sinfonietta is notable for its tight ensemble playing and authentic late-19th century tone colors, including the pungent sonorities of brass and woodwinds, and the glossy sound of strings played with minimal vibrato. However, the most distinctive aspect of Venzago's interpretation is his brisk pacing, which is likely fleeter and more energetic than anybody else's on CD. The usual weightiness of Bruckner's chorales and fanfares has been rejected, and Venzago gives the first movement an urgency and fire that make it extremely volatile and exciting. This propels the work into a surprisingly jaunty, Andante-like Adagio, a Scherzo that is set at a conventional tempo, and a Finale that matches the opening movement for explosiveness and speed. This lightning-fast performance will not sit well with traditionalists who favor a reverent approach to Bruckner, such as Klemperer's or Barbirolli's, or practically everybody else's, but it is guaranteed to shake up the conventional wisdom on how to play this piece. Highly recommended to open-minded Brucknerians.

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